Northeast of the village of Finchingfield is the little hamlet of Howe Street, and a little further along is a typically English grassy triangle where the roads to Finchingfield, Stambourne, and Wethersfield meet. At this junction three witches are said to be buried, including Goody Mumford, a schoolmistress of Howe Street in the late 18th century. Mumford was allegedly caught teaching witchcraft to some of the local girls, then dragged from her cottage, which still stands today, and stoned to death by a mob.
In 2014, Finchingfield Guildhall was donated two fascinating sticks by Joan King. The first, a witch stick, was found in a wall of her father’s, Daniel Peddar’s, 17th-century thatched cottage a couple of miles outside the village. Daniel Peddar’s great, great-grandmother’s sister is thought to have been Goody Mumford. He believed that following her death the stick was put in the wall of her cottage, where he found it. A witch’s stick was thought to ward off evil spirits and protect against witches. The second exhibit to be donated was a fertility stick found in the middle of the thatched roof of the same cottage. The burnt-in designs feature butterflies, birds, and flowers.
In the garden of Goody Mumford’s cottage was a well. Perhaps because of the house’s connection with witchcraft, the spring gained the reputation of being a wishing well, and the owner used to sell the water to tourists, while some made wishes on the spot.
Know Before You Go
Howe Street is a short drive outside the village. The sticks can be found in Finchingfield Guildhall in the village. There is a great little museum there but check the opening times on their website.